Belfast Telegraph

Massive pig farm proves the cost of producing cheap meat is too high

By Nuala McKeever

If you heard that a local council had received a planing application to build a factory farm to house 30,000 dogs, which would be kept indoors and then slaughtered for food, for China, what would your reaction be? I imagine there'd be huge demonstrations and protests and petitions and outrage being expressed via every media outlet possible.

We love our doggies. And yet, that is exactly what is being proposed to Antrim and Newtownabbey council here. Except it's not for dogs, it's for pigs.

We don't love our piggies quite as much as our doggies, do we? Why not?

This is something I've never quite been able to get my head around. How people who love cats and dogs and gerbils and baby monkeys and cute wee lambs, have a sudden change of attitude when it comes to pigs, cows and sheep.

One of our Government ministers has been to China a lot recently. She's building up relationships there to get contracts in place so Northern Ireland can sell loads of dead pig products to China.

When I read this a few weeks ago, I did wonder where all the pigs were going to come from. I couldn't see that Northern Ireland would have enough Babes to supply the massive Chinese market.

But with this application, for what's been termed a 'megafarm' in Antrim, it's all falling into place.

It'll create jobs. It'll bring money into Northern Ireland. It'll boost our export returns. We'll be competing on a world market. We'll be players in the agri-food industry. We'll be winning contracts and getting our pictures in the paper. Cos that's what matters, isn't it?

It'll keep pigs in disgusting conditions. It'll cause massive pollution to the environment and waste disposal problems. It'll create jobs for people to slaughter thousands of intelligent, affectionate, sensitive creatures, who'll die with fear and all its attendant adrenaline, hormone surges, rushing through their bodies.

Just so people can have a cheap supply of a 'food' product that will be so bad for them to eat that it'll contribute to their poor health in the long term.

What will it take for us to wake up, as a society, to the cause and effect of what we produce as food and the deteriorating state of our health?

Human beings do not need to eat dead animals to survive. That's a fact. So let's be honest about it. The reason people eat meat is because they like it. Let's not dress it up as anything else. It's taste, pure and simple.

Our ability to mass-produce things cheaply has created a new tradition where we expect everything right now, right here, with no thought about the real cost. As long as it doesn't cost us many pound coins, we think it's cheap. Well it's not.

No such thing as a free lunch? No such thing as cheap clothes, or food, or furniture? Somewhere, some living thing is paying the price, whether that's a badly paid human worker, or a pig, or a forest of trees, or a swarm of bees, or a herd of elephants, or a family of polar bears.

We are all connected. We tend to feel that when we look at dogs and cats and cute monkeys and baby lambs. We sense a rush of connection. We project a noble altruistic love onto these innocent little critters. They represent our own vulnerable selves.

Pigs are no different. Please object to the proposal for a massive pig farm in Antrim. The cost of cheap meat is just far too high.

Proof that Harry's prince among men

Sure, they're just like us, the Royal family. You remember what it was like, don't you? Calling to visit your granny and as you were leavin' she'd take your arm with a shaky hand and slip a coin into your hand, closing your fingers over it saying: "There's a wee something for you."

And you loved her. Not just for the money and in spite of the strange smell in her house.

I'm sure Harry felt just like that when the Queen slipped a wee knighthood into his hand last week.

Of course, we were happy with half a crown. He got the whole thing.

My passport to some great fun

The story of the young man who changed his name by deed poll and bought a new passport, cos that turned out to be cheaper than paying the £220 that Ryanair wanted to charge him to correct a name mistake on his booking form, made me smile, then sit up.

He changed his name by deed poll, for free. Wow.

Suddenly, unconsidered avenues for fun and mischief opened up in my mind. So, I could be me this week and Abraham Kawolski-Benson next week? For nathin'.

Thanks, Ryanair, for inadvertently giving us some pleasure. Most unlike ye.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph